Things That Matter

Federal Judge Esther Salas Speaks About Law Protecting Judges’ Personal Information In Son’s Honor

Update Nov. 25

Judge Esther Salas’ son Daniel’s memory has been honored with a law to prevent the same tragedy. Daniel was the victim of premeditated violence targeting his mother for her work as a federal judge.

Judge Esther Salas gave an emotional speech to recognize Daniel’s Law.

Daniel was killed by a deranged attorney who was targeting his mother, a federal judge. The attorney was able to find the judge’s address as a matter of public record. Daniel’s Law will prevent that from happening.

On Nov 20, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill to make Daniel’s Law a reality. The law makes it a punishable crime to publish a the personal information of judges, including address and phone numbers.

“I would want people to know about my Daniel that he always put others before himself, and that’s why I know he would want me to do what I’m doing now because he would want others to be protected,” Salas told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Monday.

She added: “He was, for us, our life. He was the center of our universe, and we were the center of his universe, and I think that’s why it wasn’t even a question of what he was going to do, he was going to protect his dad. He was going to protect me.

Updated Oct. 6.

This past July, Federal Judge Esther Salas’s 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, was brutally killed by a disgruntled lawyer disguised as a FedEx driver. The murder occurred on the weekend of Daniel’s birthday weekend and gained nationwide attention.

On Tuesday, the district judge shared an emotional letter written to her late son.

While appearing on “Good Morning America,” Salas detailed the tragic death of her son, Daniel Anderl, and revealed that just days before his murder she wrote a letter which she had planned to one day give to him.

“I wanted him, when I was no longer on this earth, to read how I felt at critical moments in his life,” Salas explained. Sharing the contents of the letter which were written in a diary entry dated on July 13, Daniel’s 20th birthday and six days before his death, Salas read:

“Dear Daniel, Happy 20th birthday!!! I apologize for not writing in your journal since February, but truth be told, I haven’t had the heart to write an entry,” Salas shared before revealing that the coronavirus pandemic had kept her busy and from writing.

“The virus’s impact on this world has been devastating, and with each passing day I keep thinking things are going to get better but they don’t,” she wrote. “There is so much hatred in this world, we are more divided than ever before, and I have lost hope for humanity. As I write this entry, I am mindful that as your mother I should stress the positives and tease out the teachable moments. I should write an inspirational message that you can look to in the future for insight and guidance. I should be able to conjure up words of wisdom after deep reflection but I can’t. Instead, I will focus on the things that I pray will happen post this awful pandemic.”

“I pray that as human beings we will stop focusing on the things that divide us, and start cultivating those things that should unite us like God, protecting our planet, and loving one another,” Salas continued. “We should join forces in eradicating this virus, learning from our mistakes and sharing valuable resources to ensure that something like this never happens again.”

“I pray that people will open their hearts and minds to others with differing opinions,” she went onto explain. “In order for us to better understand each other, we have to be willing to listen and respect others who see things differently. I pray that society truly embraces core principles like compassion, patience, tolerance, and kindness.”

“Finally, I pray to God that we stop fighting,” Salas concluded. “Everyday we spend fighting is another day lost for humanity. We need to start loving each other for who we are and remember that we are blessed to be alive.”

In August, Judge Esther Salas made a call for better protection and the privacy of federal judges.

In a video posted to Youtube, Judge Salas explained the events that unfolded the day her son was mudered. The emotion grows as she talks about her son finally turning 20 and his excitement to be with his parents. She recalls her son saying that he just wanted to stay and talk to her where the doorbell rings.

Judge Salas remembers her son running up the stairs to answer the door, curious about who it could be. When the door opened, Judge Salas heard gunshots and someone screaming “no.” When she got to her family, she learned that someone dressed as a FedEx delivery person came to the door and opened fire. The son jumped in front of his dad to protect him and died from a bullet wound to the chest.

As a result of the killing, Judge Salas is asking for politicians to do something to protect federal judges. As it stands, the address and other personal information on federal judges are readily available online. Judge Salas wants a way for that information to be hidden from the public.

“At the moment there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable,” Judge Salas said in the video. “My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.”

She added: “My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure. And I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain. We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down.”

Judge Salas’ video is a hard video to watch as her raw emotion breaks through.

It is devastating to have to bury a child. It is something no parent should have to do. For Judge Salas, she is burying a child that was taken from her in a senseless act of violence perpetrated by a self-proclaimed anti-feminist attorney.

People on social media are standing with the judge in asking for better data protection to save lives.

Data issues have long plagued the Internet and activists want to change that. For many, the issue is protecting data from falling into the wrong hands or for companies, like Facebook, to profit off of our data. For Judge Salas, it is a matter of life or death to protect her colleagues on the bench and their families.

READ: The Government Accountability Office States That ICE And The FBI Are Using DMV Data To Track Undocumented Immigrants

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The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Things That Matter

The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Credit: Fernando Vergara / Getty Images

Colombia has made incredible progress since the 1990’s when the country was a hotbed for international drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare. Today, modern bustling cities are home to shopping centers, museums, and hordes of international visitors.

However, despite the advancements, the country is still in a delicate peace deal with the main guerrilla oppossition – Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – and there are many other paramilitary groups that still operate across the country, including in the main port city of Buenavista.

The city of Buenavista is seeing an uptick in body parts washing up along its shores.

In mid-January, an arm washed up on the city’s shore. It was quickly assumed, by local media reports, that the arm belonged to one of three local fisherman who had most likely been rounded up, killed, and dismembered. The arm had a tattoo on it, connecting it to one of the missing men, Armando Valencia.

And it wasn’t the first time this has happened. According to residents, body parts washing up on beaches is a tragically familiar occurrence. “There were some reports of body parts washing up at La Bocana [a nearby tourist spot]. A head, a leg, an arm,” said María Miyela Riascos, a social leader from Buenaventura, in a statement to VICE News. “Also, they found a man and a woman dismembered in the rural area of Bajo Calima.”

Violence has been rampant in Buenaventura for decades. The city has some of the highest rates of forced displacement and homicide in the country. But seldom has it been confronted by the levels of brutality experienced in the past year.

Criminal groups have long terrorized the city but things seem to be out of control.

So many different criminal groups have terrorized the slums of Colombia’s main Pacific port that residents rarely bother to learn the name of the latest clan in control. They simply call the warring gangs los malos or the bad guys.

Three people have been killed or disappeared daily, and conflict between organized crime has displaced as many as 6,000 people. Videos on Twitter show people fleeing their homes and young men and women patrolling with assault weapons. #SOSbuenaventura has been trending.

Community leaders see darker interests behind the violence, saying the areas where most crimes occur are the same where plans have been laid for a waterfront project, an airport and seaport terminals. “I see the violence as a means of pressure to get us off this area so they can build their projects,” Armando Valencia told The Guardian.

Criminals use “chop houses” to dismember their victims.

Colombian navy special forces on patrol among stilted waterfront shacks in Buenaventura
Credit: Fernando Vergara / Getty Images

The criminals recruit children, extort businesses, force people from their homes and dismember live victims, scattering their remains in the bay or surrounding jungle. Dozens of wooden huts balanced precariously on stilts over the bay have been abandoned by terrorized citizens and taken over by the gangs for use as casas de pique, or chop houses, where they torture and murder their victims.

The chop houses are the most gruesome consequence of a deeply flawed attempt to dismantle rightwing militias, which originally emerged to combat leftwing guerrillas in collusion with state security forces and drug traffickers.

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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